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Solar heat for cool innovation

What if the sun’s heat could be harnessed to provide cooling and refrigeration for industrial processes?


That’s the idea behind the innovative technology being tested as part of an EU-level project at Givaudan’s Sant Celoni site in Spain.

As the planet gets hotter, the demand for cooling is growing. Solar heat offers an energy-efficient way to power industry’s needs for cooling and refrigeration. The challenge is developing the technology that will be able to efficiently and reliably respond to variable needs across a range of processes and sites.

Minimising emissions with HyCool

HyCool is the name of an innovative project being funded by the European Union to promote the use of Solar Heat in Industrial Processes (SHIP). The unique technology couples patented solar thermal collectors from Fresnex with special hybrid heat pumps from Fahrenheit with the aim of providing flexible and cost-efficient cooling systems for industrial applications. By maximising the use of renewable energy through made-in-Europe innovation, HyCool’s objective is to minimise emissions of greenhouses gasses.

Read more about HyCool

According to Project Officer Daniel Maraver from INEA (Innovation and Networks Executive Agency, European Commission), the HyCool project offers a unique opportunity to bridge the gap between science, research and innovation: “It is crucial that EU academic, research and industrial sectors join forces to demonstrate that solar heat can be a reliable energy source for industrial processes. If successful, HyCool will result in significant savings in cooling processes for both primary energy and fossil fuel utilisation. To this end, it is interesting to have a mix of small and large companies in order to ensure that SMEs are ready to scale up their technology once it is validated in the project.”

Read the interview with the HyCool Project Officer

The solar thermal collectors are designed with long, narrow mirror strips which pivot with the sun to concentrate heat to a water pipe and produce steam; the heat is then transferred to the hybrid heat pump which transforms it to generate cooling. Thanks to the modular concept, the solar panels can be fitted to existing industrial rooftops, making the installation cost-effective as well as energy-efficient.

“We are excited to be hosting the pilot site at our fragrances ingredients production facility in Sant Celoni, Spain, and collecting data on energy efficiency in order to maximise the potential of HyCool technology for our industry. In chemical production, our needs for heating and cooling are highly variable depending on the season and production schedule so it will be interesting for us to test the flexibility of the system.”

Jean, Global Expert for Utilities and Industrial Services

Read more about the HyCool project in Spain  

Further reduction in carbon footprint

The technology is particularly attractive for Givaudan given its ambitious target of 100% renewable electricity by 2025. While the Company already achieved 58% of its renewable electricity goal as of the end of 2017, every little bit helps, as Jean explains: “Every industrial site needs heating and refrigeration, and this combination of technology is highly relevant for our sites in sunny locations like Egypt, South Africa, Mexico and the USA. At full scale, we anticipate that HyCool will enable Givaudan to reduce our electricity consumption by 25% and natural gas by 6%, which adds up to a 7% reduction in our carbon footprint.”

The EU-level project brings together a consortium of 16 partners in diverse fields from engineering and project management to standardisation and research. For Jean, HyCool is a unique opportunity to combine Givaudan’s drive for innovation with the expertise of leading global energy and utilities experts.

“We invest substantially in R&D within Givaudan – it’s part of our DNA. This project is particularly exciting as we have a chance to partner with experts from diverse fields in finding new ways to improve our environmental performance.”

Participating in the HyCool project is fully in line with Givaudan’s commitment to achieve stringent reduction targets for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions along with water, waste and energy. As part of our sustainability approach, the Company is working to continuously improve operational processes and reduce its global environmental footprint – from rationalising logistics, to finding new ways of working to reduce water consumption and working with white biotechnology and a circular economy model.

Read more about our reduction targets for greenhouse gas GHG emissions

This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grand agreement No 792073